“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any directions you choose.” – Dr. Seuss
When admission offers begin to roll in, how do you choose? Maybe you think back to how you selected your undergraduate institution, maybe you talk to your friends and family, or maybe you just stare at your acceptance letters in utter distress. Graduate school is a shorter but more focused academic experience, so you want to pick the best place for you and your goals. While everyone’s dreams are different, there are a handful of general factors to consider…
– Cost & Funding –
From a practical standpoint, money may be first thing on your mind. When reviewing admission offers, we frequently hear prospective students say something like, “It really comes down to money.” We get it. Grad school can be expensive! If you are fortunate, you may have some loans and grants to help you. Another avenue is to research Assistantships and Scholarship opportunities at your accepted institutions. We wrote a blog post about SUNY Plattsburgh’s Assistantship program, sharing details on half or FULL tuition coverage (wow!). These opportunities are in place to make grad school financially realistic for you, so let us help you get that master’s degree!
– Location –
If time allows, take a trip to each of your possible grad schools so you can experience the location for yourself (if you haven’t already). While the academic elements of grad school are incredibly important, the vibe of the campus and larger community can be just as crucial. Ask yourself, will you function better in a urban or rural area? Would you like access to nature, shopping malls, or a little bit of both? If you’re curious what Plattsburgh is like, you can begin by checking out The Discover Plattsburgh website and maybe planning a visit after that!
– Program Environment –
Every graduate program has a “culture.” In other words, features and traditions that vary from program to program and make each program unique. Think about what you may like in a program: a tight-knit community? A larger body of peers and professors? Student events? Active honors societies? Fieldwork and practicum experiences? You can find these details by reading materials written by students, or by contacting current students directly. Most graduate students are more than willing to divulge the awesomeness of their program. We frequently reach out to our grad students for their grad school stories. Here are few blogs that feature grad student perspectives:
- A Story of Serendipity: Transitioning from Math Education to Student Affairs & Higher Education
- Teacher Education Student Perspectives
- Write This Down!: Grads Reveal Their Most Treasured On-Campus Resources
– Curriculum –
This one may take some digging. If you’d like to know more about the academic quality of a grad program, get your hands on their curriculum. Look for classes that excite you, some that may challenge you, and some you have questions about. Don’t be afraid to reach out to faculty to ask your questions about practicums, internships, exit exams, etc. It’s your right to know what your grad school experience will tentatively look like. A graduate program curriculum/course layout may look something like this…
– Fun Stuff! –
Grad school doesn’t have to be super stressful, packed with homework and responsibility. Do your potential grad programs offer an outlet for networking, socializing, and fun? It’s been said that the friends you make in graduate school will follow you into the professional world and beyond. Our graduate admissions office plans Welcome Back events and Student Meetups for our grads. Foremost, these events help grads unwind, but also they facilitate students getting to know each from different programs! Below is our event line-up for the current semester…
– Post Graduate Life –
A final thing to consider is what your life will look like after you’ve graduated from a certain program. Will you be prepared to continue your education if you choose? This is particularly important if you want to be certified in your field upon graduation or afterwards. What do post-grad hiring rates look like? Which companies/organizations are the biggest employers? While envisioning yourself two or three years from now may be daunting, it may also bring clarity to your current predicament.
If you’ve done all the research you could possibly do and you’re still like…
go with your gut instinct. This may sound risky, but trust yourself to know what’s best for you. Try writing down the names of your possible grad schools on separate sheets of paper, mixing em’ up in a bowl, and picking one. Are you wishing you picked a different one? Are you relieved you chose that one? Maybe, in your heart of hearts, you’ve already chosen.
The SUNY Plattsburgh Graduate Admissions office is here to help you! If you have questions–specific, vague, weird, silly–we will try to answer them or direct you to someone who can. Getting multiple admission acceptances can be so validating, but can also be so scary. Where you do your grad work may set the tone for the beginning of your post-grad professional life. We want you to make the right choice for you!